Survive working from home in a share house
Working from home can bring out the best and worst out of us, and if you’re living in a share house while working from home, it can bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly. 70% of people living in share houses are aged 18-35, so it’s likely many uni students are experiencing the trials and tribulations that comes from sharing both your home and workspace with others.
With a bunch of pros and cons, we’ve put together the top tips you need to know to stay healthy, productive, and happy while working from (share)home.
Rely on your network (but tell them to keep it down!)
One of the best parts about working from home in a shared environment is the opportunity to brainstorm with people whose perspectives you may not have considered before. If your roommates are down, chat about a project you’ve been struggling with over dinner, or make it official and set aside time to put your heads together. Having friends and housemates around to bounce ideas off can be a creative way to sort through challenges in a low-pressure and collaborative environment.
That being said, living with other people while you’re working from home can be noisy and distracting. It can be frustrating to attend Zoom meetings while just next door your roommate blasts loud music or watches their favourite TV show at top volume. Try to stay productive by allocating yourself break times and actually stick to them – it will help compartmentalise your work day and keep you on track. You could even arrange activities with your housemates for your breaks, like playing a lunchtime sport, cooking or baking together, or even just sitting down to watch a movie.
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re free
With many Australian businesses entering their eighth month of working from home (whaaat?!), employees have been quick to acknowledge all the great things about not having to go into the office. Working from home gives you independence, flexibility, more time with your loved ones, and cuts down on commuting time, which are all wins in our books.
However, for people who aren’t working from home, your change in office can seem like a golden opportunity. Housemates who still need to leave the house for work may ask you to run errands for them, organise deliveries or visitors, or catch up on housework during your work day. This expectation relies on the misguided idea that working from home isn’t real work, and can be extremely frustrating when you’re trying to be productive. A solution to this could be creating a communal calendar for your house, so your roommates have more of an idea of when you are and aren’t available.
Pick a space and keep it clean
Another great perk of working from home is ability to choose your desk for the day based on what works best for you. If it’s nice, why not bring a picnic blanket outside, or position yourself with the best view? If you’re the type of person who needs quiet and solitude to work, make your desk your safe haven with plenty of snacks on hand and a DO NOT DISTURB sign at your door. If you’ve got a housemate or two also working from home, you could even set up a mini office to make sure you all stay on task for the day.
Of course with great power comes great responsibility, so although you can pick anywhere you’d like to work, make sure it’s somewhere that really will inspire a good work ethic. Try to keep whatever space you’re working from as professional as you can; an untidy room, heaps of clutter, or friends walking around in the background of your zoom calls is a sure-fire way to seem unprofessional to your colleagues.
Separate work and home
The split from work and life has merged somewhat during the pandemic, but maintaining a sense of separation between your work day and your home life is imperative to maintaining your sanity and capacity to work. While tempting, it helps not to blur your work and downtime – have a dedicated start and end time to your work day. Living in a share house is helpful in this way, as you’ll likely have people around you to help you relax after a busy day at work and won’t be too tempted to stay online for just a little longer.
This is important throughout the day too. Make sure you are taking proper breaks and leaving the house if you’re able to. Breaks are not just great for your mental and physical health, they’re also your legal right, even while working from home.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.